In Celebration of International Women's Day!
by Jamie Spannhake
March 08, 2020
Above is a photo of my mom, the strongest woman I know. She is with my dad at my wedding in 2007. It's just a snapshot, not the best quality, but I love it because they look lovely and in love, which they are.
My Mom is Lucy Jean Magness Jackson.
My mom is the strongest woman I know. She has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since she was 22 years old. She was diagnosed when she had a 2-year-old baby, my sister. This was around 1960, before there were drugs to stop the deformities that it causes, and when the only OTC pain killer around was aspirin. She's had multiple procedures to try to alleviate the pain and stop the progression, including 3 hip replacement surgeries, plates in her neck and back, reverse shoulder replacement, and removal of the bones in her toes. Despite all this, she keeps going. She can't walk much anymore, but she still gets out there, when she feels well enough.
When I was growing up, I remember how she would purposefully and consciously "overdo it" so that we could spend a day doing normal mom-daughter things, like walking around the shopping mall for back-to-school shopping, or walking around Disney World for a family vacation. She knew all that walking was going to immobilize her for the following few days, but she did it anyway, because she wanted us to do those "normal" things. Because she loves her family.
She has endured so much physical pain in her lifetime, I cannot even imagine what it must be like. Her hands are mangled, with some of her knuckle joints no longer in their sockets. All her other joints are swollen and don't operate properly - not her shoulders, hips, ankles, neck, elbows, wrists - none of them.
She has taught me to be grateful for what is good, even when lots of things aren't good. She has taught me to persevere, even if it is painful. She has taught me to focus on what I can do, rather than on my limitations. She has taught me to be strong, by her example.
I love you, Mom.